Today is the Super Bowl. Unless you’re living on a secluded island, I’m sure you already know that. I considered writing about how I love having friends gather at our home every year. My favorite parts are watching the halftime show, the creative, costly commercials, and oh yes, the football game. I had to double check who is playing the Patriots! I’m admittedly not a sports fanatic.
Then I thought F#%$ that idea! I will continue last week’s post, which is called “Parenthood: Where’s the Manual?” I swore—pun intended—I would never curse. Ever. I rarely uttered a curse word even during my younger years or in my 30s. I used to (and still do) feel swearing is improper, distasteful, and uncouth.
I simultaneously turned 40 years old and became the mother of two teens. I am blessed that Alec and Zoe are truly two of the most respectful, honest, and kind teenagers I know. As I shared last week, certain values are important to us. Given that manners and decorum are high on the list, it’s dreadful that I find certain words—I literally cannot even bring myself to type them—insert themselves into my typically refined language.
You can imagine my horror when “S***” escapes my mouth. It is disgraceful! And the F word. OMG. Yes. I’m embarrassed to admit it. My husband is horrified when he hears it. He says, “What happened to the woman I met 20 years ago? I really don’t like it when you use those words.” So I try “frickin'” and “heck,” which he insists is still swearing. C’mon! Seriously? Full disclosure: HE does use curse words as well–his language is not as pristine as it appears in this piece. However, I take a bit of the blame for influencing his newfound adjectives.
I have searched for an answer to my husband’s question. It is a fair one. And the irony is that I don’t like hearing or using vulgar language, either! It is awful. It is nasty. My husband’s inquiry has nagged at me for months like a persistent, pesky gnat.
The year I turned 40, my verbal filter began to fade. I’ve done some informal research during discussions with other mothers. Each person with whom I spoke seemed to relate. I have tackled this quandary like the linebackers will do in tonight’s game. After weeks of wondering, I decided it was time to call some folks and inquire.
I spoke with close friends and even acquaintances that I know freely drop the F bomb in public. I even heard a friend, who’s an extraordinary, well-respected teacher, call her 6-year-old son an “A-hole.” The adorable kid (and mine!) were right there! I was shocked. I would never do that. No FKN way.
I may state that a behavior or choice one makes is “crappy.” For example, I’ve admittedly gotten worried when seeing bikers in the middle of the street without a helmet. In my distraught state, I may or may not have said, “What the h***! Get off the road–you could get run over!” But I wouldn’t call a person, and especially a child, a curse word. I do have standards.
I’ve conducted due diligence with people in various professions including accountants, lawyers, teachers, hairdressers, psychologists, writers, and others. I’ve also spoken to stay-at-home moms. Some of those in my tribe are devout Christians, observant Jews, and span the spiritual spectrum. Many of my closest friends are older than I. They swear more than Kevin Hart! You know who you are, and I love you without judgment.
It seems that age, gender, religion, or career do not influence the range or frequency of curse words used by people. It’s an epidemic! No wonder the movie “Bad Moms” was such a hit. I am finding myself in moments that seem to necessitate hyperbole. “Oh rats” or “gosh dang it” or “goodness gracious” just does not provide the same emotional release as f***. It. Just. Does. Not.
My daughter has said, “If you get to say those words, Mommy, so do we!” After I apologize for the runaway expletive, I tell her absolutely not. Her logical rebuttal always includes “But our friends say those words!” I say, “Like I’ve told you your entire life, different parents different rules. We don’t judge others—this is how we roll in our home! And G-d help you if you or your brother text or use any foul language!”
So I struggle and speak often with friends about the “do as I say but don’t do as I do” phrase. I work hard to be authentic with my children. And I certainly do NOT want to be a hypocrite!
A wise, witty friend, who has clearly pondered the profanity dilemma in greater depth, shared this sagacious advice: “I tell my kids you are not an adult nor have you earned the right to swear. It is about time and place. Furthermore, I know when and in what situations to use these words sparingly.” I told her how grateful I was for this insight; I immediately shared her rationale with my children.
One friend emailed me articles in which the authors stated that cursing is a sign of intelligence. I don’t agree but I did want to offer that perspective! This is an absurd argument; I know several brilliant souls who’ve never used foul language in their life. Another dear friend, who I adore and respect, proudly boasts that her kid’s first word was “F—.” I am not making this up. I didn’t believe her so I confirmed it with her adult daughter. My spitfire friend is now a grandmother, and she has told me she’ll continue this lewd legacy.
There are times that a softer synonym just doesn’t quite work. It’s a similar feeling as when you crave French fries but you choose to eat carrots instead. They’re both vegetables and satisfy the urge to crunch while you munch. But once in awhile, it just doesn’t hit the spot.
So what’s a gal to do? I am trying to accept my weak, unrefined moments, and I apologize when it occurs in front of my kids. I’m working on cleaning my partially-clogged filter. I will not text or email “those words.” I certainly would not use them in a professional setting or during an oral presentation. I do not curse in front of my childrens’ friends.
Sometimes I run out of words to express an emotion in certain situations. That is an honest, humbling expression from a writer and editor. For goodness’ sake, it is the truth. I am proud of being a classy, refined woman. Publicly admitting this imperfection about my occasional unsavory word choices is both humiliating and uncomfortable. But it is also f*****g liberating.